Fabiola Santiago

The last thing Miami-Dade needs is state government controlling MIA, PortMiami | Opinion

Tallahassee’s disrespect for home rule is out of control.

No longer satisfied with having abolished Miami-Dade’s local expressway authority, MDX, there’s now talk about staging a state takeover of PortMiami and Miami International Airport.

This should be the proverbial last straw.

Maybe it’s time to secede, split the state in two.

I’m serious.

And pair that with throwing out of office the state legislators conspiring to give away our assets, short-changing us on funding for the sake of their personal deal-making, and voting against our interests in the Florida Legislature.

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There’s little to gain in replacing local stuff we might not like — MDX and its tolls come to mind — with even worse state service and law. Remember the SunPass billing disaster and how you got overcharged? That was all your state vendor at work.

Nothing good can come from giving away our two most prized assets — one of the largest cruise ship ports in the world and our international airport — to a state government almost 500 miles away from Miami.

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Many of the world’s new cruise ships spend a season or more based at PortMiami, which sees more cruise passengers each year than any other port in the world. Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com

If you think it would eliminate the airport and port vendors greasing local politicians’ pockets with campaign donations, wait until these entities are run out of Tallahassee. The coffers of legislators and the governor will be full, and they, in turn, will be giving away those contracts to their people in Florida instead of to our local businesses.

Adiós to La Carreta’s croquetas and pastelitos. Hello to Dick’s Wings with 20 locations in Florida and Georgia. (For the record, I like them both, but you get my point.)

If you travel through Florida like I do, you know certain parts of North Florida hate all that South Florida stands for: our way of life, our multiculturalism, the many tongues with which we speak.

When they hear global city, they run for the woods — and legislate against our best interests.

The anti-sanctuary city bill passed by the Legislature last session — with the participation of Miami-Dade’s own Republican, Trump-loving city bumpkins, same ones who want the port and airport — was a slap in the face to us down here.

Most importantly, the sweeping sanctuary law that turns local as well as state agencies into arms of the feds via ICE and Border Patrol — signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to fulfill a campaign promise — is another way in which the state chips away at our local authority.

Maybe it doesn’t mean much to Leon County that the occasional undocumented resident is too scared of being identified and deported to report a crime. But in Miami, immigrants’ level of confidence in law enforcement can be the difference between life and death, between solving a crime and someone getting away with murder.

Likewise with gun control, Florida’s government has tried to thwart local initiatives to decide how we live our lives, who we are, what we stand for.

State government became in 1987 the one and only law-making body when it comes to gun legislation — and local governments can’t do a thing to protect us from the proliferation of gun violence.

Under Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s rule in 2011, penalties were added to punish local officials who tried to curb gun violence. Fines and removal from office became the price to pay for, say, banning military-grade weapons in your city. A court overturned the penalties, but guess who’s appealing? Attorney General Ashley Moody, same one challenging a citizen-driven push to put a ban on assault weapons on the ballot.

At what point do local governments draw the line — and fight back?

Perhaps, we’ve found the sweet point with the potential takeover of PortMiami and Miami International Airport.

Wisely so, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez is already preparing the county for the legal fight by including $2 million in funding for “voter education” in the 2020 budget. There’s some precedent being made with MDX. The state move to abolish MDX is facing a protracted constitutional challenge in the courts right now.

Next step should be serious scholarly study of the pros and cons of South Florida becoming the 51st state (maybe we could even incorporate Puerto Rico).

If there’s a North and South Carolina, a West Virginia and a Virginia, a North Dakota and a South Dakota — why not a North Florida and a South Florida?

And the package deal should include the exile from South Florida, for starters, of legislators Rep. José Oliva of Miami Lakes, Sen. Manny Díaz of Hialeah, and Rep. Bryan Avila, a Hialeah freshman who sponsored the bill to abolish MDX with Díaz. I also would add with glee all the other GOP turncoats who voted against their fellow immigrants and their own heritage on the sanctuary bill.

Since they like so much to give away our stuff — and our dignity — to the ruling class in Tallahassee, they should live there.

Award-winning columnist Fabiola Santiago has been writing about all things Miami since 1980, when the Mariel boatlift became her first front-page story. A Cuban refugee child of the Freedom Flights, she’s also the author of essays, short fiction, and the novel “Reclaiming Paris.”
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